Stress fractures can occur in any weightbearing bone of the lower extremities.  Previously called “fatigue fractures”, chronic pounding of your feet over and over, as in running, basketball, tennis, and other sports, can cause tiny cracks in your metatarsals -- the long bones just behind your toes. Focal swelling will usually happen on the top of your foot over the metatarsal affected.  The navicular arch bone, a sesamoid bone under the big toe joint, your heel bone, and your shin bone (tibia), can all fall prey to a stress fracture. 

These types of fractures are typically not visible on a simple X-Ray until several weeks after occurrence.  More advanced diagnostic imaging like MRI, CT scan, or even Ultrasound can help accelerate the diagnosis. An untreated stress fracture can convert to a full-on crack, i.e., complete fracture of the bone. Once this happens, you will notice swelling and pain with virtually any type of activity. Bone typically takes four to six weeks to heal.

During this time, patients can typically tolerate off-weightbearing exercises such as swimming and Pilates. If you don’t take timely and appropriate measures such as consulting with a podiatrist, you might exacerbate the injury making it more difficult to treat.